Send to

Choose Destination
Vet J. 2019 Jul;249:10-15. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2019.05.005. Epub 2019 May 13.

Methods and basic concepts for microbiota assessment.

Author information

Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, University of Montreal, Saint-Hyacinthe J2S 6Z7, Canada. Electronic address:
Department of Pathobiology, University of Guelph, Guelph N1G 2W1, Canada.


There has been a marked increase in interest regarding complex microbial populations in recent years. The methodology used for microbial assessment has drastically changed over the last two decades and continues to advance at a rapid pace. Culture-based studies have been superseded by those based upon molecular methods, which have been largely used to discover new species and to better characterize complex communities, mainly driven by the advances in DNA sequencing, termed 'next generation sequencing'. These methodologies have allowed for a better understanding of the relationship between hosts and their microbiotas, which have important roles in health maintenance and in the pathophysiology of wide ranging conditions such as obesity, diabetes, allergic diseases and even behavioural changes. While most widely used in humans, these approaches are now commonly used in veterinary research, with increasing interest in direct clinical applications. As these methods provide novel insights that will constitute the basis for the development of new therapeutic and prevention strategies, and as commercial efforts to offer microbiota assessment as a clinical tool expand, it is essential for researchers and clinical veterinarians to understand and have the tools to be able to interpret research performed in this new fascinating field. The objective of this review is to describe some of the most common methods for characterization of microbial communities and to provide an overview of the basic concepts necessary for good interpretation of the research performed in this field.


Animals; Intestinal bacteria; Metagenomics; Next generation sequencing

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center